Narasimhavarman II (r. 700 - 728 CE), popularly known as Rajasimha, was a ruler of the Pallava kingdom. Rajasimha is credited with the construction of the Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram and Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram along with most other structural temples in the two cities. Rajasimha's reign was period of great literary and architectural advancements and he is often grouped by historians with Mahendravarman I and Narasimhavarman I as one of the greatest Pallava rulers.
Accession to the throne
By the time Rajasimha ascended the throne, the Pallavas were by the large most powerful military force in the subcontinent. His father Parameswaravarman I was among the greatest of warrior kings of ancient India, the Amaravati Pallava inscription praises him of being: "As vigorous and strong as lord sambhu (siva)". Parameswaravarman I had subdued all his formidable enemies to extend the Pallava empire far and away. Rajasimha followed up very well.The Vayalur inscription of Pallavas issued on the eve of the coronation of Rajasimha (695.C.E-728.C.E), gives a lineage of 54 rulers through the epochs of Kritam, Dwaparam and Kali up to emperor Rajasimha, this includes 47 kings after Aswattaman, the great warrior ancestor of the Pallavas.
Rajasimha, like of most of Pallava kings before him, was a great militarist. That the Pallavas were recognized as a major power during his period is testified by the fact that he exchanged ambassadors with China. In general his period was relatively free from major wars and Pallava domination of south east Asia continued.
Contribution to literature
Rajasimha was a skilled dramatist and poet. He wrote many works in Sanskrit. Most of these are missing. His Sanskrit plays had themes from Ramayana, Mahabharatha and puranas. Kutiyattam, which is considered as the most ancient available form of dance drama and still in vogue in Kerala, uses some of his plays (like kailasodharanam) for subject matter and so does chakyar koothu another ancient Tamil dramatized worship service. another play called "kamsavadham" dealing with lord krishna's killing of kamsa also was written by the king.
The Sanskrit litterateur Dandin spent several years in his court and was patronized by the king, but we do not know about his standing as the inscriptions denote considerable level of erudition . Rajasimha himself was a great devotee who was credited for having mastered the great agamic worship rituals" like preceptor drona".
For all his accomplishments, Rajasimha is mainly remembered as a foremost devotee of lord sivan and a relentless,truthful, diehard warrior king who made sure that pallava armies remained dominant in the subcontinent. Lord sivan is famously known to have appeared in the king's dream and ordered him to adjourn his coronation because he wanted to first bless an impoverished saint poosalar.This event is very well described in most pallava grants of Rajasimha as well as the ones after him.
Rajasimha was a great devotee of Siva and constructed the Kailasanathar Temple at Kanchipuram. Rajasimha is one among the pantheon of 63 Saivite Nayanmar saints as Kazharsimha( meaning "one who is lion to crowd of evil kings") Nayanar and also contemporary to many nayanmar saints like sundarar, dandi, poosalar and his great queen Rangapataka who was known to be a pious queen. Rajasimha is greatly admired for valor. He took many titles like "ranajaya", and "sivachudamani". Rajasimha also famously declared before lord sivan in tiruvarur alongside serruthunai a nayanmar saint that he considered himself not as a king but a sincere servant of lord sivan.
Patronage of architecture
Rajasimha's reign was marked by peace and prosperity, and he constructed several beautiful temples. Apart from the Kailasanatha Temple at Kanchipuram, Rajasimha also built several other temples, including the Vaikuntha Perumal Temple at Kanchi, Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram. He is also credited with building the Airavatesvara temple at Kanchipuram and the Talagirisvara Temple at Panamalai.
Rajasimha's had two sons - Mahendravarman and Paramesvaravarman II. However, Mahendravarman III predeceased his father, and Paramesvaravarman II succeeded to the throne in 728 CE.
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